The Easter Eggs Hidden In The Names Of Instagram Filters

Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
We know that people are naming their babies after Instagram filters. But how did all those filters get their monikers in the first place? As someone whose parents jumped on the name “Juno” decades before the app did, I had a particular interest in this — and was surprised to find out that Instagram HQ never offered much in the way of an official explanation. Until now.

According to communications manager Liz Bourgeois, in the early days, cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were mostly focused on just trying to keep Instagram from crashing. Systrom’s wife was the one who suggested tacking a prettifying element onto their photo-sharing-only prototype. So when they did start adding filters, the names weren't given a ton of thought — they were just plucked from their surroundings. Systrom was working on the Valencia filter from a coffee shop on Valencia Street in San Francisco, for example.

Now that the company employs around 250 people, naming is a much more collaborative effort. There are emails and brainstorming sessions to come up with monikers that don’t mean something off-color in another language (the names aren’t translated) and are easy to pronounce. Anyone can throw out an idea (even something kind of terrible, like when content strategist Hazel Jennings gunned for “Egoi,” a minor divinity associated with wind), but it may well get nixed.

Here are 11 that made the cut, and the stories behind them.

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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Slumber
Krieger’s assistant was testing out this filter by snapping pictures of her young son — who often slept through the portrait sessions.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Ludwig
This minimalist filter was named for German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who popularized the phrase “less is more.”
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Perpetua
Like the filter for which it’s named, Cape Perpetua — a forested headland in Oregon that juts into the Pacific Ocean — has a lush feel with green undertones.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Juno
Krieger’s Bernese Mountain dog, who has her own Instagram account, answers to “Juno.” Toaster also has a canine connection, according to angel investor Kevin Rose’s post.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Dogpatch
Instagram launched from Dogpatch Labs, a one-time San Francisco co-working space for start-ups. Now, Instagram employees work an hour south — on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park. (Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012.)
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
X-Pro II
X-Pro is short for a technique called “cross-processing,” which is when you process photos in a chemical solution intended for a different type of film. This high-contrast filter, like a lot of the early ones, was intended to correct for the not-so-great camera phones that were around when Instagram launched in 2010.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Crema
“We really like coffee and happy hour at Instagram,” says Jennings. Crema makes your photos light and creamy — like a layer of foam on a coffee drink.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Hefe
Speaking of happy hour, Jennings says that Instagram staffers love their hefeweizen. Lose the “weizen” and you get Hefe, which has a vibrant yet cozy vibe, like beer goggles for your photos.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Kelvin
Lord Kelvin was a scientist who studied, among other things, temperature, which explains why this filter’s so warm.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Reyes
Product manager John Barnett was working on this filter at Point Reyes, a peninsula in Marin County, California, with what he calls a “dusty, warm” feeling.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Clarendon
Instagram’s most popular filter gets its name from Clarendon Heights, a ritzy San Francisco neighborhood (the average home price is over $1.3 million) known for its gorgeous views. In other words, this filter makes your #ootd look expensive.
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